Thursday, 5 January 2012

Flexing Our Muscles (or making myself and the world a better place through developing will power)

Here’s a story I’m sure everyone’s familiar with:

For as long as I can remember, I have always made big, bold, ‘whole new me’ type resolutions at New Years. Well this year I say: ‘Bugger it! It’s clearly not been working.’ Every year I sit down, write out detailed plans for what exercise or studying or such I will do on each day, usually with some kind of daily routine involving meditating, drinking green tea, waking up early, reading, writing and other such things I’m certain all the amazing, well-balanced, productive people do each day. I’ll be able to stick to the plan, at least the important bits (fitness/studying) for a few days, maybe a week. One time I even stuck to the exercise for a month! But then I falter. Miss a day here or there. Then eventually back to square one.
I find it especially hard to stick to resolutions and ‘whole new me’ type plans because I am something of a perfectionist when it comes to things I’m really enthusiastic about. Which naturally leads to much frustration when I miss a day, or something doesn’t go smoothly in the plan. I huff and puff because I’ll never be one of those amazing green tea drinking, early-rising, productivity gods. And then I do nothing.

That sort of perfectionism has been a real road block for me. It’s ridiculous. Obviously logically doing even a little exercise or studying here and there is better than doing none. I know that, but I’m an idiot and like to huff and puff. I’ve had enough of that sort of bullshit.

Firstly, who the hell are these green tea-drinking, early-rising bastards anyway? No one I know. Not a clue where that idea snuck into my head from. Probably TV. Normal people aren’t like that, so that concept is getting chucked in the bin right away.*

This year my aim is to make a little progress every day. To just take one small step towards improving things for myself and others. There are so many, many, many articles out there about how it takes thirty days to make a habit, and how we should focus on one small thing at a time.  By making use of the advice and experiences of others, I hope I can make some small changes. 

 I’m going to focus on one main goal a month. For January it’s my eating and exercise. I have a plan, which isn’t especially intensive but I’ve read some good testimonials, and some pretty decent science backing up the health benefits, so it’ll do for now. There are several other areas in my life I would like to improve on, and while I will be making small efforts with them as and when the mood takes me, I’m going to put all my willpower towards eating and fitness so I don’t spread it too thinly. For those of you interested I am going to be following, a few (readily forgiven) slip ups aside, the primal blueprint.

Other goals for the year include:

·         Really focusing on getting well.  
·         Writing here more regularly, particularly to include in-depth essays on topics of interest.
·         Writing my novel.
·         Quitting smoking completely
·         Become an early riser
·         Reading regularly (on which I’ve already made a great start
·         Start an investment account. 
·         Cutting back on expenses and putting the ‘excess’ toward charity.
·         Learning to play the guitar I’ve owned for a few years now.
·         Get involved with volunteer activities, particularly in my local community (I’m starting with St John’s Ambulance in February, woohoo)
·         And others that I will undoubtedly be adding, since I have twelve months which will need filling.

The whole idea behind introducing only one major change at a time and aiming to just work on it a little bit extra each day is to help me build up my will power. Will power being a vital tool to getting anywhere in life, I feel . While I am able to take a long-term view on life, and in most situations can, making changes to myself is the one area where I always am short-sighted. It’s always a radical ‘whole new me’ change, or nothing. 

Now I realise that sounds like far too many things to hope for, but they always say shoot for the moon and things like that, so I'm going to. The self-forgiveness of Tuesday's post (which is still masquerading as December 24th for some reason) comes in here. If I try to do all these things this year and only achieve half, I'll be happy. 

So here's to 2012. Please come along with me on the journey. For the most part I'll be writing here about issues I feel are important, but from time to time I'll slip in an update on my progress. Let's hope we can make a real difference this year. 

*If you are one of these people please get in touch so i can interrogate you to uncover your secrets. 

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